2nd Lieutenant Albert Ellis Birch was born at Oak Mills, Atchison County, on February 15, 1894. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1913, and attended the University of Kansas for two years.At the time of his registration in May 1917, he indicated he had been in the Kansas National Guard for six years, attaining the rank of Corporal.
He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at Camp Funston, serving with Company A, 342nd Machine Gun Battalion, 89th Division. He was sent to Europe in May 1918.
On November 1, 1918, he was wounded near Bois-de-Bantheville, France, but refused treatment in order to stay with his platoon. One source says that he died of wounds, but others–including his posthumous citation for the Distinguished Service Cross–suggest he was killed by a shell on the morning of November 11, 1918.
His remains were brought home and interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence on April 3, 1921.